Career and Technical Education Is Growing Rapidly To Fulfill Employment Gaps
Education Commission of the States Report
According to the report, “Career and Technical Education: States Aligning Programs To Meet Workforce Needs,” the rise in CTE programs is a result of shortages in skilled workers who possess “industry-recognized certificates.” CTE credentials could be the ticket to building the middle class. A 2012 Georgetown University study suggests that high school graduates who earn certificates earn 20 percent more than high school graduates without any additional education. Not only does a demand for skilled workers exist, but the pay is also significantly better. Students simply need the adequate resources to help them become successful.
One suggested resource is for schools to offer “Learning & Earning Exchanges,” or systems that would educate students on what careers are in demand and the training that in-demand careers entail, as well as establish relationships with companies to assist them in finding highly qualified workers. Schools also need to offer more CTE programs, give students real hands-on learning experiences, offer incentives for students to enroll in CTE programs and establish internships. It is crucial that these opportunities are offered now. According to the Georgetown University study, “The United States will fall short by 5 million workers with postsecondary education at the current production rate by 2020.”
How States Are Filling Gaps
The report cites many states’ efforts to build CTE offerings. In Indiana, 11 geographical areas have established “Indiana Works Councils,” which review local CTE offerings and create alternative curricula so that high school students can work with “qualified instructors” and get “real-world learning opportunities.”
Florida has CTE governing boards that oversee secondary technical programs. These governing boards are similar to school boards but are comprised of industry and business representatives who are best equipped to recognize local business needs and what kind of CTE programs should be offered.
Like Florida and Indiana, other states (including Alabama and North Carolina) are increasing their CTE offerings and providing oversight to their programs. Students who graduate from CTE programs are far more equipped to enter the working world, with real-life work experience and advanced technical skills.
Benefits to Students
If fulfilling the job void was not enough incentive, the Idaho State Journal gives compelling reasons for students to enroll in CTE programs during high school. According to the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), 90 percent of students enrolled in CTE programs graduate from high school, which is about ten percent higher than the national rate. To add to this, 81 percent of students that drop out of high school agreed that “relevant, real-world learning opportunities would have kept them in high school.”
Students enrolled in CTE programs also have more opportunities to earn advanced certificates and college credits. Students enrolled in ProStart programs, through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), can earn college credit and scholarships after passing two exams and completing 400 hours of work experiences. Rob Gifford, the executive vice president of strategic operations and philanthropy for the NRAEF, stated, “Eighty-one percent of students who receive the ProStart National Certificate of Achievement are still working in the industry five years later, a testament to the strength of ProStart and our students, who are heavily recruited by post-secondary schools for their skills.”
Indeed, our future economy may depend on these programs.